Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Morning After: Baghdad ER on HBO

I made it till around 8:30 this morning before being revisited by some of the soldiers and medical people in "Baghdad ER", the documentary on HBO. Today it's not so much about our leaders, as a time of reflection and respect for the individuals involved. Watching doctors and a chaplain try and talk a young soldier through a bleeding wound deep within his chest was as powerful as anything I've ever seen on television. As the vigil progresses and the surgeon slowly realizes that survival just isn’t in the cards, the chaplain tells the young man that it is okay to go. The kid put up a hell of a fight but it was something he couldn’t win. The issues and politics of Iraq fall to the wayside and it just becomes the sadness of watching this one young life end – not from traumatic amputation or fire – but from a little piece of metal that found its way next to his heart.
It would have been so easy to overdo this special. If they had wanted to show the constant carnage, that would have been no problem. There’s certainly plenty of it. But by focusing in on a few individuals, the documentary makes its point even more powerfully. Sure, it’s tough watching an arm being placed in a red plastic bag for disposal, but what’s really tough is watching what’s happening to these people on an emotional level. This documentary contains the best commentary on this war that I’ve seen. It’s from the doctors and nurses – the ones who have the best view of what this really means. And unlike our politicians and our news media, these individuals aren’t afraid to tell you what they really think.


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